Thursday, August 14, 2008

Widely different views of war

Unfortunately, the cynical interpretation taken by Zerkalo a couple of days ago seems to have been validated by recent events in Georgia. The news on Al Jazeera tonight is of the Russians making threatening moves toward the second largest city in Georgia, perhaps as a feint to show displeasure over the recent decision to send aid to Georgia. In any case, the conflict claims primary space in many – but not all – of the newspapers today.

Here are some examples of the front pages:

“Russia marauds, rapes and burns
And the USA sends war plane and ships to assist Georgia”

Novoe Vremya
“Provocations ‘made in Washington’ in the Caucasus are not excluded”

Komsomolskaya Pravda
“Saakashvili in the eyes of a psychiatrist
Capricious puppet or little fuhrer?”

Argumenti i Fakti
“Anti-Olympic games”
(The inside coverage on pages 4, 5, and 6 mostly concerns the assault of the Georgian army on Tsinvali. Also, there is an interesting graph showing the growth of military expenditures in Georgia, marked with piles of $100 bills.)

Not surprisingly, the newspapers based in Russia give much less front-page space to the conflict.

As you can see that the tone of coverage within the Russian language press is far from uniform. But – you have to remember – that Zerkalo and Novoe Vremya are published here in Baku. Argumenti I Fakti and Komsomolskaya Pravda publish Baku editions, but the main company offices are in Russia.

On a side note, I ran across a blog site that appears to be set up to tell the Ossetian or Russian side of the story. Called “Ossetia Truth,” the blog is in English, although the blog owner uses a computer translation program. Sometimes the translation is a little clunky. “Petr” started the blog this month, apparently simultaneously with the commencement of the recent fighting.